Nurse recruitment freeze dents HIV fight

MUTARE - The freeze on recruitment of health workers has left health institutions understaffed and unable to offer quality HIV and Aids pre-test and post-test counselling services, a senior health official has said.

Mutare City Council’s senior nursing officer Martha Njerere told a provincial dialogue meeting on stigma and discrimination hosted by Southern Africa Aids Information Dissemination Service (SafAids) and Zimbabwe National Network of People Living with HIV (ZNNP+) that there is a huge human resource gap.

“Pre-test counselling should be done before to provide enough education to clients before an HIV test which is not being done effectively because of a huge client burden on service providers,” Njerere said.

The problem is not only affecting council clinics alone but government health centres as well.

The senior health official’s admission came after self-stigma was observed to be still high due to poor counselling services.

Estella Mufute, a ZNNP+ official had told the meeting that she had deliberately gone for testing during an outreach campaign at Meikles Park in Mutare’s central business district and was not counselled.

“No counselling was done and if I had not known my status beforehand I would probably have been run over by a car from the stress,” Mufute said adding that this was spurning self-stigma.

“Acceptance is a process and there is need for people to be adequately counselled to be able to accept their status.”

Patson Sazunza, a senior community health advocate with SafAids said counselling was failing due to an overload of assignments and a drive to reach targets during outreaches.

Sazunza challenged Aids organisations to improve their programme linkages as there were many lay counsellors and health volunteers willing to support an extensive range of campaigns and continuous programmes.

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